Thoughts on the reporting of natural disasters

Two random thoughts, which don’t touch on theodicy or climate change or the things one should be thinking. Both are observations, rather picky ones, but meant merely as things I find interesting, rather than criticisms of Australians.

1. I see and hear and read again and again the declaration “Bricks and mortars can be replaced, but humans can’t”, or variations. It’s a logical thing to say. Perhaps it’s the only thing people can think to say in such a situation. Of course, with my low tolerance for cliches, I tend to groan when I hear a politician or spokesperson say it, but I aim to feel more compassion. I heard a lady say it twice on the news last night as she showed a reporter through her flood damaged home. I began to wonder if it was almost liturgical, a declaration of belief. It’s a good belief to get back to. At its core, even if the articulation is overly familiar, its message runs counter to the way the consumerism in our society makes us so orientated toward objects.

2. Interesting to hear both reporters and politicians to speak often of the ‘Australian spirit’ in getting on with life in the face of disaster. I wonder why resilience is claimed as a particularly Australian trait? In what sense is it an ‘Australian’ spirit rather than a human spirit? The people of the two-thirds world seem a lot more resilient to me, because bad stuff happens to them a lot more regularly, and they just get on with life too. I wonder if our national identity and pride become a source of comfort in times like this?

5 thoughts on “Thoughts on the reporting of natural disasters

  1. Hi Nathan, I suspect that kind of community solidarity is universal. We had it here in the UK in wartime. It’s still there – the British stiff upper lip. The downside is xenophobia and scapegoating of ‘enemies’. I spent the Falklands War visiting my sister on an army base in Germany. Given my pacifist views it was not a comfortable place to be. It’s uncomfortable to be on the wrong end of a tight-knit community

  2. You mean you Brits have a British spirit? The way we talk over here, I thought you might say, ‘It’s time to show some Australian spirit, chaps!’. 🙂

  3. “In what sense is it an ‘Australian’ spirit rather than a human spirit? ”

    In the sense (I fear) that governments see in these threats to their image of perfect mastery an opportunity to plug their “nationalist” ethos once more, thereby hoping to bolster the illusion of that mastery…

    In other words, I think it’s purely a “human (and other animal) spirit”, but each “nation” tries to “nationalise” it to garner what support for the State can be got from it. (Sorry for all the scare quotes!) So it gets the name of whatever country it’s in.

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